This week the ‘mallard-style makeover’ of a locomotive repatriated from Montreal to mark the 75th anniversary of its legendary sister breaking the world steam speed record, reached its final stages.
As the countdown reached just 55 days until the 3 July celebrations, heritage painting expert, Ian Matthews, began the painstaking freehand lettering on Dominion of Canada, the final stages of a complex cosmetic restoration which has seen the mighty machine transform from shabby BR green back to its 1930’s streamlined garter blue glory.
The workshop team at the National Railway Museum’s Co Durham site have been working hard on the locomotive since it moved into the museum workshop late last year. The Doncaster-built Gresley Pacific was given a Mallard-style makeover with a Canadian twist in preparation for this year’s 75th anniversary celebrations of Mallard breaking the world speed record and becoming the fastest steam locomotive of all time. Along with fellow traveller, Dwight D Eisenhower, the repatriated locomotive arrived on UK soil last October after an epic transcontinental trek by rail flat car across North America and a 2,527 mile journey across the Atlantic and is on loan for two years specifically for the Mallard 75 celebrations.
Anthony Coulls, Senior Curator of Railway Vehicles at the National Railway Museum said: “No. 60010 arrived looking a little jaded in the BR Green livery it has carried from the sixties and it’s been a real labour of love to transform it into the streamlined valance blue LNER No 4489 - just as it was in its 1930s heyday. It’s been quite a journey for our workshop team of dedicated staff and volunteers, as it’s been like unwrapping a time capsule. On stripping down the loco we even discovered a vintage newspaper under the driver’s seat. Fitting the bell also provided some interesting challenges but we hope we will be able to make it ring using compressed air on Mallard’s big day in July. We’re so excited to be showcasing all six survivors of the A4 class in our Great Gathering and it’s fantastic that people from all over the world, including the US, Canada and Australia are travelling to York to join us in marking the milestone in global history that is Mallard’s world record-breaking run.
Richard Pearson, Workshop and Rail Operations Manager said: “Dominion of
Canada is now looking ready to take centre-stage with its famous sister Mallard.
We’ll be sad to see the locomotive leave our workshop for onward travel to York once these finishing touches are complete, but looking forward to seeing all six of them looking their best in just under two months time.”
Marie-Claude Reid, Executive Director General of Exporail the Canadian Railway Museum said: “Dominion of Canada has been an important part of our collection at Exporail, the Canadian Railway Museum, since the late sixties and we are thrilled to be loaning her to the National Railway Museum to help the British people mark 75 years since Mallard broke the world speed record in style. We are watching the makeover with interest.”
On 3 July 2013, Mallard and its five surviving sister A4 locomotives will fulfil the dreams of rail fans across the globe, with the ‘Great Gathering’ - a spectacular international family reunion. The six streamlined steam giants will be gathered together around the Great Hall turntable in the National Railway Museum in York for two weeks - a sight never seen before. There are also plans for a follow-up ‘Great Goodbye event in Shildon, Co. Durham next year from 15-23 February 2014.
The three operational A4s, No. 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley, No. 60009 Union of South Africa and No. 4464 Bittern will be taking a break from rail tours around the UK to help the Museum celebrate the 75th anniversary in a fitting fashion.
On the third of July 1938, the mighty blue Mallard was recorded as reaching the awe-inspiring speed of 126mph on the East Coast Main Line, breaking the existing German record of 124 mph set in 1936. No 4468 Mallard built at LNER’s Doncaster Works was chosen as the perfect vehicle for the latest attempt on the world steam speed crown because it was the first of the class to be fitted with a double chimney. Due to the subsequent evolution of diesel traction and the outbreak of the Second World War, Mallard’s record still stands and to this day inspires a sense of National pride that a British locomotive is still recognised across the globe as the fastest steam locomotive in the world.
Visitors can view the finishing stages of cosmetic restoration work on Dominion of Canada in the workshop of Locomotion, the National Railway Museum at Shildon, Co Durham this week and next week. Once finished, the locomotive will leave the workshop to be showcased beside streamlined railway rival, Duchess of Hamilton, ahead of onward travel to York on 29 May.
The ‘Great Gathering’ of Mallard and its sisters takes place 3 July – 17 July at the National Railway Museum in York. HRH, The Prince of Wales is Patron of Mallard 75, the museum’s spectacular season of events and activities in 2013/14 marking 75 years since Mallard broke the world steam speed record. For more information on the National Railway Museum’s 75th anniversary plans for 2013/2014 including photography evenings at Shildon visit nrm.org.uk/mallard75. For regular updates follow the museum on twitter.com/railwaymuseum or join us on facebook.com/nationalrailwaymuseum.
• Dominion of Canada is currently being repainted at Locomotion; the National Railway Museum at Shildon from British Railways Green livery into its 1937 as-new form – Garter Blue, with a valanced single chimney, complete with Canadian bell and chime whistle, and replica cabside crests featuring the Royal Coat of Arms of Canada
• Thanks go to Moveright International, Ceres, Peel Ports, ACL, Life Environmental and CNR for their generous support in the repatriation of Dominion of Canada and Dwight D Eisenhower.
• The National Railway Museum in York has the largest collection of railway objects in the world and attracts over 700,000 visitors per year.
• Locomotion, the National Railway Museum at Shildon is a joint venture between the National Railway Museum and Durham County Council. Locomotion is home to over 60 vehicles from the national collection and attracts over 200,000 visitors per year.
• Admission to the National Railway Museum is free.
• For more information visit nrm.org.uk.
• Follow us at twitter.com/railwaymuseum
• Join us at facebook.com/nationalrailwaymuseum
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